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Jul 5, 2020 5:21:29 PM

Musical Shakers for our Little Learners


Throughout the summer, our young learners have the opportunity to participate in our virtual Operation Little Learners program. We've planned so many fun activities that directly correlate with our in-person program goals. Each week, parents can read about the developmental focus and then facilitate simple activities for their kiddo to work on that goal. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, "Music is one of the first ways children experience math." Beat, rhythm and melody help young learners form a foundation for later mathematical reasoning skills. This super-fun musical activity allows for exploration of all three! 

During week six of our summer program, Mrs. Kayla will talk to our kiddos about patterns in music and movement. This musical shaker craft is a great way for our little learners to engage with patterns in music and movement while having a blast! Plus, you probably have all the necessary materials at home to make some of these shakers right now. 


  • Water (or other type) bottle with secure fitting lid

  • Tape (duct or masking works well)

  • Items for inside bottle to make noise (any of the following will work: rice, paint or food coloring + vinegar, dried pasta, lentils, dried beans, beads, small charms, etc. (see notes at the end of this post on how to color your rice).

  • Items to decorate the outside of the bottle (optional) washi tape (or other decorative tape), permanent markers (with parents' help), stickers, etc.


STEP ONE: Wash and dry your bottle. You want to make sure your bottle is both clean and completely dry before you begin. You don't want your rice or beans to get wet or they won't last. While your bottle is drying, you can color your rice (see notes at the end of this post). 

STEP TWO: Fill the bottle about half way full with your musical ingredients - rice, beans or pasta. A funnel is helpful here but not necessary. Have your kiddo help by placing a few beads or charms inside the bottle.

STEP THREE: Put the top back on your bottle and use the duct tape (or other heavy duty tape) to reinforce the lid.

STEP FOUR: Time to decorate the outside of your bottle! Use tape or stickers or even permanent markers to decorate the outside. 

STEP FIVE: Make some music! Now it's time to make music with that new shaker! Try creating different patters with your kiddo. Start with a simple shake-shake-shake, followed by a clap-clap-clap and get creative as you go! Shake, clap, shake, shake, clap. Shake, shake, clap, shake, shake, clap, clap, stomp. The possibilities are endless! For more information or ideas, check out the Scholastic article on The Math in Music and Movement.


***NOTES on coloring rice...

There are many ways to color rice from food coloring and vinegar to simple paint and rice. You can find a great vinegar and food coloring how-to from Powerful Mothering. We used kid-safe tempera paints and then allowed the rice to dry for about a day. All you need for this method is plain white rice, a resealable plastic bag and some paint.

STEP ONE: Add your rice to the bag with paint. We added roughly 1 cup of rice to 1 tablespoon of paint. Make sure the bag is sealed completely.


STEP TWO: Have your Little Learner help you squeeze and squish the bag to distribute the paint. This can be a super fun sensory activity with your little one.


STEP THREE: Lay your rice out on a foil covered cookie sheet and allow it to drive for about a day. Once or twice while the rice is drying, use a plastic utensil to move the rice around so all areas are able to dry completely. 


Posted July 6, 2020


The Armed Services YMCA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves currently serving military members and their families. In 2019, we engaged more than 250,000 participants and delivered more than 1.3 million points of service to junior enlisted Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and family members at 200 service centers in 18 states. Whether providing respite child care for parents in need, summer camps for kids, or assisting with emergency needs, the Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit with a mission: Strengthening Our Military Family®. Visit our website to see how you can join us in supporting military families.


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